Tuesday, July 28, 2015

THE LAST TANGO OF ERDOGAN. By Ghassan Kadi 28 July 2015

It has been said, but to no avail with some, that the enemies of Syria are distinct groups with distinct interests who happened to get united by their hatred towards Syria and/or the Syrian government.
The initial infamous Anti-Syrian Cocktail was so diverse with a multitude of vultures each seeking his pound of flesh.
Israel was after bolstering its security and to make sure that the lifeline support to Hezbollah from Syria comes to a permanent halt.
Saudi Arabia wanted to curb the growing influence of Iran by clipping the wings of the Arab State that has a defence treaty with Iran and that is seen as a Shiite vassal state.
Qatar wanted to take a place in the centre stage and to rival Saudi Arabia in becoming THE Sunni financial backbone for Sunni enthusiasts.
The 14th of March Coalition people of Lebanon wanted to even and old score with the Assad family.
Turkey had been waiting for a whole century to find its way back into restoring its regional former glory, and
The United States….well, the United States does not rest unless it has full hegemony on every state in the world. Its animosity for Syria however goes further than hegemony. The USA was also after settling a score with Syria for spoiling the fruits of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon of 1982, supporting Hezbollah and kicking Israel out of Lebanon defeated and humiliated. This is needless to mention that Syria was the only Arab nation that stood against the American-Israeli road map and continued to refuse to acknowledge the state of Israel and give it safe borders.
The irony is that the above cocktail above found in Islamists good cannon fodder. Recruit them, feed them, provide free sex for them, drugs, weapons and lots of money, and they will be more than happy to go and die fighting the “infidel Alawis”.
When victory for the alliance did not come about as they thought it would, they started to grow restless with each other, and this has been reiterated several times before, but it seems that many observers and activists continue to believe that America is the head of this evil pyramid and remains to be in full control of the whole orchestra and every note it plays.
This is far from the truth.
When ISIS had had enough of empty Saudi and American promises, it broke loose and sought self-financing overtaking oil fields and the like. America realised that it needed to start clipping the wings of ISIS, and this was when American and Turkish interests began to clash.
To Erdogan, fighting ISIS inadvertently meant supporting the Kurds. With a high possibility of some form of Kurdish statehood, albeit simply a state based on autonomy, Erdogan felt great dis-ease and growing concern. The battle of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) with Kurdish forces fighting ISIS was raging for weeks on end, only a couple of kilometers south of his borders.
Erdogan had to choose the lesser of two evils, as far as his interests are defined, and decided to support ISIS as he fears the Kurds more.
Previously, Erdogan had an open border policy for Al-Nusra fighters and other Islamists many of whom change organizations as often as ones changes socks, but his direct support and facilitation of movements of ISIS men and hardware became very obvious.
But again, his interests and those of ISIS have clashed, and the recent skirmishes and bomb attacks are the tip of the iceberg as to what could happen next within the Turkish depth.
Whether or not the loss of the legislative elections of June 2015 made any difference in all of this is not essentially relevant. The bottom line was that Erdogan was in a huge quandary. His alliance with NATO dictated that he should partake in action against ISIS, but his concerns about the Kurds riding on this victory stopped him from towing the NATO line.
The recent American-Turkish deal is of clear intentions. Erdogan now has to confront ISIS, but he also wants to break the back of the Kurds. He agreed to fight ISIS and open Turkish bases for NATO fighters provided that he is allowed to create a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria.
The buffer zone, something Israel tried to create and failed in Lebanon, is not only intended to push ISIS away from Turkish borders, but also to separate Turkish Kurds from Kurds in Syria. If successful, he will undoubtedly do the same in Northern Iraq as well. In this, Erdogan “guarantees” that if a Kurdish state of some description is created in Northern Syria and Iraq, it will not have common borders with Turkish Kurdish areas and this will, again, “guarantee” that this state will never ever have the opportunity to encroach upon Turkish land.
“On paper”, this looks like a master plan that not only engages Turkey and puts it in a potential lead role in fighting ISIS; if the USA indeed becomes serious about fighting it, but it is also a Turkish role that has the blessings and endorsement of the US.
It is possible now that the role of Turkey has been set, that the NATO-led coalition will start launching more effective strikes on ISIS. We must remind ourselves that Turkey was weighing in to prevent this, but if Turkey and the West now both agree to seriously start hurting ISIS, it is highly likely that they will intensify their attacks and cause more pain for ISIS.
This whole plot however has many wild cards that both Turkey and NATO do not seem to be considering seriously or not at all. Suffice just to have some of them listed herein:
1. Turkish Kurds. 
2. Turkish ISIS supporters.
3. ISIS operatives and cells already in Turkey.
4. Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria.
5. The position of the new Turkish cabinet to be.
6. The Syrian Army
Each of the above has the potential to make Erdogan’s plan his last tango.

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